Today’s Game Without Meaning against the “Wild Card Hopeful” Giants (now 3 games under .500) showed something I’d like to see a lot in 2007:
Rich Hill pitching 8 lovely innings. 5 of his last 6 starts have been quality starts. He’s earned a full season in the rotation.
Contribution from Ryan Theriot. It’s not beyond hope to see a .340 OBP/.380 SLG from him. That’s a reasonable output from a middle infielder, especially one making the league minimum. I could live with him playing every day at 2b next year. This kid’s so good they’ve already named a town after him.
Matt Murton doing his thing with a walk and a homer. Not counting today, he’s at .355 OBP/.427 SLG. I can certainly live with that, especially assuming some improvement in both numbers as he moves along the growth curve. Again, he’s a cheap contributor and an on-base-getter.

None of these three are hall of famers and probably not even All Stars, but unless you play just north or south of Connecticut you’re not going to field 9 all stars every night. Players like this allow you to pay for Carlos Zambrano and go after useful free agents. When the ineptitude of your team leaves you an emotional quadriplegic, grasping at straws become the only way to get the tasty, bubbly Beverage of Hope to your lips.

Let Carlos Zambrano be Mordecai Brown. Let Derrek Lee be Frank Chance. The ’08 Cubs needed Jack Pfeister, Johnny Evers, and Wildfire Schulte to be the Champs..why not the next ’08 champs with those roles filled by Hill, Theriot, and Murton?

Update from Mastrick: Dave, it’s almost like we’re watching a young pitcher mature before our very eyes. Rich shows confidence now; also I’ve noticed that he’s throwing a new breaking ball. His normal bender is offspeed with a hump in the middle and a sharp break. His new breaking pitch is more slider speed and falls like a sinker at the end. Wicked!

Theriot is starting to become a feel-good story. Surprisingly, Ryan was drafted in the third round, behind Joe Mauer, Mark Prior, Dan Haren, JJ Hardy and Kelly Shoppach. Most of the others in front of him haven’t panned out. He’s a real effort guy, gives you everything he’s got and rarely hurts you. I’d like to see him get the Neifi role next year, backing up at 2B and SS.

Jacque Jones’ continued ability to hit the ball to the opposite field is also to be commended. Sean Marshall goes to the hill tomorrow, it’s going to get pretty crowded out there now that some of the DL’ed players are coming back. I don’t see where it makes any sense to start Miller, his velocity is under 90 so hopefully the Cubs will let him do Glendon Rusch’s job out of the pen and then wish both of them the best of luck in all their future endeavors. No more wounded wing pitchers!

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